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Choosing Traditions/ Written by Jennifer Addy/ Short Story

As the evening breeze hit her skin and sent shivers down her spine, she knew it was time to go home.The trees had began to change into unpredictable daunting shadows and the sun was was already falling asleep as she rowed her canoe full of plantains and yams just harvested from her fathers farm across the river. She had left two children and a husband in the village before dawn to get to her farm on time.The Ogbono soup and fufu from last night would certainly sustain them until she returned. The plantains and yams weren’t going to harvest themselves and her family would need the food to survive the coming rains. Her children were too young to go to the farm being only 3 and 1 years old. Her husband on the other hand, was an educated man. Educated men according to him, didn’t go to farms or partake in archaic traditions. They only read books and wrote letters for “uneducated village folks”. He had gone to school and had finished standard six. The white people had taught him how to read and write and to him, that was the greatest achievement of all. Before becoming his Mrs, Ebiere had been the envy of all the maidens in the clan. Black, beautiful and the only child of a sailor. She was pampered by her parents and everything she desired was given her. Many men, both from within and outside their clans had come to seek her hand in marriage. Wealthy men who owned large plots of farm lands and beautiful mud houses had begged her to marry them. They would treat her like a princess. And serve her as a queen. If only she would say yes. Unfortunately, she didn’t. She wanted to marry for love. And so, when she met Tari. A young scholar at that time. With his white short, shirt, shoes and and matching socks, she admired him and wanted to be his and him hers. He was the only person in the entire village that was going to the white man’s school and she admired the way he carried himself and his slate on his way to the school everyday. She fell in love with him the day he said “hello” to her. She had never heard such a word before and had repeated it over and over again to the villagers they thought the water goddess had finally washed off her sane mind. She loved him so much, that she persuaded her father to convince Tari to marry her. That, had turned out to be not so much of a difficult task. Being that Tari was the youngest of 19 children, quite lazy on the farm, and without any money. He agreed to marry her partly because of the praise he would get for being the one that won the heart of the sailor’s only beautiful daughter and also because of the 10shillings, a new mud house and the brand new canoe he would get. Mind you, these are the things a groom was suppose to give his new bride as the price for marrying her. The wedding had been the talk of the village and the envy of both genders. The old ones had shook their heads at the abomination that had happened before their eyes but to the new bride and groom, it was the best day of their lives as they were both getting what they wanted and were utterly satisfied. “Mama, mama, nua o,” Her son ran up to her in greetings with his little sister not far behind. They had been alone for most of the day and were elated to see someone that would finally allow them to some food. She hugged them, leading them inside the compound when she saw a group of people surrounding her husband’s hut. She was taken aback and for the first time in a long while, was gripped by fear it pinned her to the ground. It was too soon she thought to herself. It was not yet time. He should have waited for her to grow a little bit old. For her children to reach the ages of initiation before he did this to her. Tears of sadness filled her eyes as she stared at the crowd gathered around becoming bigger and bigger without even noticing her presence. She didn’t have a choice, she had to face the challenge that was before her. She had to be bold and show no weakness as this was the beginning of the rest of her life and everyone present would want to gauge her reaction. So she marched forward, with her dirty farm rags, barefooted and two children by each side to welcome her husband’s new bride.

Photo credit: Pinterest.

About the Author

Jennifer Addy is a graduate of English and Literary Studies from Niger Delta University. She is currently a teacher, an avid reader, lover of culture and foreign languages . She creates her own world in her stories with the hope of touching a life or two and making the world a little bit more livable.

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